By: Allison Ramirez
This weekend, we celebrate the feast of Pentecost and the conclusion of the Easter season. Just as in the Christmas season, we celebrate past the actual date itself an extra twelve days, for Easter, we celebrate the season for a whole FIFTY days.
Why do we do this? This is because when Jesus rose from death and reappeared to his apostles, he stayed with them for forty days before ascending back up into heaven. But before he ascended, he promised to send them the Holy Spirit, which departed on each of them in the upper room as of tongues of fire ten days later at the feast of Pentecost. The descent of the Holy Spirit is not only the third decade of the Glorious mysteries of the Rosary, but Pentecost also marks the birthday of the Church. You may already be familiar with the Jewish Feast of Passover (the night Jesus had the last supper and was handed over to the Romans). This feast is a Jewish memorial celebration of God saving them from slavery in Egypt by commanding the angel of death to “pass over” the homes of the faithful Israelites who had put the blood of the lamb over the doorpost of their homes.
In contrast, Pentecost was a spring festival of thanksgiving in celebration of the harvest (an unbloody offering of cereal or grain was given) celebrated fifty days after the Passover feast. This celebration was also called the Feast of Weeks. At the time of Jesus, you would have traveled to Jerusalem for this festival from all over. Thus, many people speaking different languages were gathered in Jerusalem at the time the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles. The coming of the Holy Spirit enabled the apostles to speak in tongues so that all gathered, regardless of language or background, could understand. From that day forward, the apostles went forth sharing the gospel and building up the body of Christ, the church.
If you’d like to learn more about Pentecost, I’d encourage you to watch the video on FORMED called “The Grace of Pentecost” where Dr. Brant Pitre talks in greater depth not only about this feast day, but about the grace that the first apostles received when the Holy Spirit came upon them. Toady, we can take part in that same grace, especially through the gifts and fruits received at our Confirmation.